A plant-based super athlete, total body-mind-spirit wellness advocate and founder of the Mandy Gill fitness and nutrition apps, ultramarathoner Mandy Gill has an extraordinary life. But she’s had to overcome major obstacles to get there. Now an ambassador for Reebok’s new women-led Be More Human campaign, which celebrates real women who thrive despite life’s adversities, Mandy shares the most difficult and rewarding moments in her life that got her where she is today.
1. When she chose to fight for her life and battle her anorexia
Like many women, Mandy spent her teenage years looking to feel loved, accepted and beautiful. She saw thin models in magazines and remembers thinking, “the only way that I can find love and have somebody love me is if I can match that,” she says. Her obsession quickly spiralled out of control and by the time she was 18, she weighed only 80 pounds. Thanks to her sister and a therapist, Mandy was able to choose life. “I wanted to live and I wanted extraordinary experiences in life,” she says. “I realized that I needed my body to take me there.” Even now, she fights daily anorexia triggers, but she sees a mind coach regularly to help her cope and is “optimistic about women embracing every part of themselves and feeling confident with who they are,” she says. “As women, we can empower one another to accept our differences and inspire younger generations of girls to do the same.”
2. When she found her passion for fitness
Mandy doesn’t have an athletic background, so she didn’t discover fitness until she moved to Vancouver to attend broadcasting school. Though she knew her family would be concerned that she would relapse and take exercising to the extreme, she received their blessing and started to develop her skills in CrossFit. It was a slow process and took her a full year to go from push-ups from her knees to push-ups from her toes, but she became dedicated to training by the time she started working in radio, she was taking hour-and-a-half lunch breaks so she could work out. “I was so in love with moving my body and the community I had created,” she says. In 2012, she brought together her two passions—broadcasting and fitness—and pitched a morning TV show segment that has been running on CTV Morning Live ever since.
3. When she decided to switch her sport from CrossFit to ultramarathon trail running
After Mandy brought home her Bernese mountain dog puppy, Chance, she started to realize that her passion for fitness was changing. “Something was pulling on my energy, saying, ‘You’re not supposed to be in the four walls of a gym right now. You’re meant to be out adventuring and getting into sport with Chance,” she says. She listened to her gut and started trail running, which became ultra-distance trail running. Though she was terrified she would jeopardize her pre-existing relationship and partnership with Reebok since she was changing sports, she had nothing to worry about. “They said, ‘Mandy, this is what you love. We will fully support you.’” And she’s so grateful. “I think it’s important to never hold ourselves in strict boxes. Freedom is found when you let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you really are.”
4. When she finished a 50k trail race despite injury
Mandy trained hard for the 2018 Diez Vista Trail Race, a 50-kilmometre mountain trek in British Columbia. But at only nine kilometres into the run, she rolled her ankle, heard three snaps and fell to the ground. “Everything flashed before my eyes,” she says. “My eyes were closed and a nauseous feeling overcame me.” But when a man from search and rescue told her they’d have to repel her down the side of the mountain to a location where a helicopter could land, courage flowed through her body and she stood and began to walk, then run. She completed the next 41 kilometres at a slow jog. “It really was me saying, ‘I committed to this. I’m going to finish. I know my body,’” she says. “I kept going forward. To me, that’s the definition of fighting and saying there’s nothing that will hold me back.”
Though Mandy has accomplished amazing feats in her 31 years, she also says that she values a lifestyle that allows time for friends, family and her dog. “I’m not training seven or eight hours a day, seven days a week,” she says. “My message is far beyond fitness and nutrition: it’s about body-mind-spirit wellness. When you surround yourself with the best environment, best conversations, best fuel, best workouts and best rest, then the best things are yet to come. Reebok recognizes me for saying that this is my definition of being more human.”